I've always wondered about the proper way to store and reuse breastmilk that's already been used for a feeding, but I haven't been able to find a good answer anywhere.
Breastmilk is like liquid gold and wasting even an ounce is extremely painful! The American Academy of Pediatrics says to discard any used milk. Dr. Sears and most other sources say to save it for the next feeding and then toss. My lactation consultant told me to put it in the fridge and use it at the next feeding because the conservative guidelines for tossing milk are largely based on premature babies with underdeveloped immune systems. The moms in my mom group say they leave the milk at room temperature and use it at the next feeding.
According to La Leche League
While some mothers and caregivers reheat expressed milk that was leftover and refrigerated after a previous feeding, there is no research on the safety of this practice. There is also no research about whether freshly expressed milk left unfinished at room temperature should be discarded, or can be saved for a short time (perhaps up to one hour as reported by some mothers and caregivers) to finish the feeding if the baby wakens from having fallen asleep or still appears hungry.
According to THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, page 228, research indicates that human milk has previously unrecognized properties that protect it from bacterial contamination. One study, Pardou 1994, found that after 8 days of refrigeration some of the milk actually had lower bacterial levels than it did on the day it was expressed.
Right now I keep the milk in the warmer if Charlie doesn't finish it, and I reuse it within two hours or I toss it. Food that's been left out is supposed to be refrigerated within two hours, so I'm following the same principle.
What do you do with your precious liquid gold if your baby doesn't finish it at a feeding?
1) discard any used milk after a feeding
2) keep used milk at room temperature and use at the next feeding whenever that may be
3) keep used milk at room temperature and use it within a designated amount of time (eg one hour)
4) refrigerate the used milk and reheat for use at the next feeding
5) keep the milk in the warmer and reuse within a designated amount of timeMomaroo reader requested to be anonymous